Book Review #1: Lucifer’s Legacy: The meaning of asymmetry.

“A book is like a portrait as opposed to a photograph. A portrait is something that you layer on and layer on in which there is still this single image but there is a depth to it. A book allows you to think and then rethink.” -Dr. Jordan Peterson

Welcome to my first Book Review.

Lucifer’s Legacy: The meaning of asymmetry. By Frank Close                          Oxford University Press Inc., New York, NY. (2000)

This book was recommended to me by Michael Mullin.

It opens with the line, “The world is an asymmetrical place full of asymmetrical beings.”

We tend to try to make things simply: “We are asymmetrical because our liver is on the right and our heart is on the left.”

Sure. Why though?

This book allows you to explore and appreciate complexity: 

Why is our heart left oriented?

Each amino acid has a left (L-type/’laevo’) or right (D-type/’dexter’) asymmetric form (mirror images of one another) and chains of amino acids will twist in a direction. Left or right asymmetry in an amino acid is determined by how the molecules will rotate polarized LIGHT.

There is a natural selection of left handed amino acids; life on earth almost exclusively uses the left handed form. Left handed amino acids were discovered on the Murchison meteorite indicating they may have arisen from outer space. Left handed amino acids have lower energies and are more stable. Nature tends to seek the states of lowest energy.

The asymmetrical shapes of molecules force the DNA to be twisted or coiled. Spirals link the resulting right-handed DNA double helix. DNA is the perspective of which life is based on.

A preferred handedness in molecules is necessary for the origin of sustained life and the formation of our solar system.

…So why again is the heart oriented left?

Left handed amino acids power Monocilia on Henson’s Node that have a greater concentration of specialized proteins on the left which ONLY push fluid in one direction. Clockwise: right to left. These specialized proteins during embryo development create asymmetrical orientation of the heart.  

Yeah. Let’s go.

If you’re going to read this book be ready for some physics. Frank Close will explore mirror images, the structure of the atom, forces (gravity, electromagnetic, weak, strong), particle physics, antimatter, chiral asymmetries in molecules, and hidden symmetry. The last few chapters explore how the origin of life is currently being investigated at the European Centre for Particle Physics CERN in Geneva, in relation to the loss of symmetry in the early moments of the universe; the singular occurrence of the Big Bang.

Close also explores right-handed dominance in prehistoric peoples and asymmetries of the brain linked to handedness. Beginning in Chapter 5, Close details scientific, Nobel Prize awarding discoveries including X-rays, Cathode rays, and types of radiation. The last few chapters of the book mostly discuss the experiments of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN related to ‘Higgs’ field’.


Big Hitters:

Creativity is a right-brain activity. How people differ in brain structures and in what ways in which this influences personality and language is questioned.

  • Right brain crosses over to left side of body so maybe stimulate the left side of the body? 

Prediction is the real test of a theory. Processing each and every piece of sensory input is too energy consuming and inefficient.

  • Maybe we don’t just react in response to input…we predict.

Antimatter was explored in relation to the current theory of Creation: The perfect symmetry between matter and antimatter was lost forever and  a small proportion of the matter was left over (this is the Big Bang) to form us and everything around us as far as we can see.

Light is a form of electromagnetic radiation. Our eyes respond only to a very small part of the whole electromagnetic spectrum; but the whole of the spectrum is alive.

  • Is what you see the only thing there? 

Perception. What is reality? There are things that our subjective senses can not detect, so do they exist? “Our view of the history of science is the building of machines to extend our perceptions…Modern natural philosophers would claim that these are no less real (and no more?) than the subjective perceptions formed with our unaided five senses. They are but the current extremes on a continuum of experience.”

  • Perception is in relation to the continuum of experience…I like that.

“Scientists will continue to improve measurements; some day perhaps this will explore patterns that are currently beyond our imagination.”-Frank Close

…maybe what we know now, is nothing compared to what there is to know…


Overall Score: 7.2/10

This is definitely a book ‘out of my scope of practice’ but I found great value in exploring something new. I have a personal interest in particle and quantum physics so I enjoyed it. The last Chapter discussed ‘Higg’s field’ which is a theory addressing the fundamental questions of our existence.  How can that not be interesting? I enjoyed this book for perspective, reflection, and exploring complexity.


Up next: Legacy: What the All Blacks can teach us about the business of life by James Kerr.

2 thoughts on “Book Review #1: Lucifer’s Legacy: The meaning of asymmetry.”

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your review of Lucifer’s Legacy. You definitely have a talent for breaking down the complex into understandable concepts and thought provoking questions. I would have expected nothing less – looking forward to future reviews.

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